King Raff (Eric Idle) used to rule peacefully over this tiny planet in the farthest reaches of the galaxy, but alas the population were idiots and allowed a dictator to take over, the cruel tyrant Tod Spengo (Jon Lovitz). He was an idiot too, in fact the King wasn't too bright either, but when Spengo decided to blow up Planet Earth with his newly-commissioned death ray, it would have been the last straw; however, as he demanded of his second-in-command General Afir (Thalmus Rasulala) a closer look at the exact point in California the ray would strike, he caught sight of a vision of loveliness: middle-aged housewife Marge Nelson (Teri Garr), and ordered her transported over to marry him.
What would Marge's husband Dick Nelson (Jeffrey Jones) think? Well, he's coming too, as the tractor beam hits them as they are off on the highway for another holiday and whisks them across the gulf of space to Spengo's presence. With credits on the script for Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, who created Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, your hopes may have been high if you had any affection for their brand of goofy science fiction as best seen in that couple of cult classics, but as it turned out there were few fans for Mom and Dad Save the World. Part of that may have been in the benefit of hindsight as one of the leading actors disgraced himself publicly and that affected him.
But this would not necessarily have harmed the humour value of seeing it before all that unpleasantness took place, and the truth was this did not seem too sure who it was aimed at. If it was the kids' market, there were hardly any children in it to identify with as had become traditional in the style, leaving the sneaking suspicion that it was targeted at the same age group who Garr and Jones were essaying, assuming they had fond memories of the old Flash Gordon serials and wished to see them sent up. That this was far from a hit may indicate the flaw in that reasoning, in spite of the amount of jokes about Mom taking photographs of everything and Dad's bad back and delicate stomach.
Therefore it is little wonder this has become an orphaned project in the affections of even those fans who wish to see as many science fiction movies as possible; it is high on nobody's list of must-sees, and had the air of a film that you would watch on TV if there was really nothing else on, or you could not be bothered to raise yourself from the sofa. And yet, there were some decent things about it, Lovitz's obnoxious, overgrown nerd act was by now honed to a fine point, Garr had her sensible parent in non-sensible circumstances performance down pat, and even Jones was effective enough as the coddled Californian now thrown out of his comfort zone and realising, as in Idiocracy, that even an average man can be the smartest guy around should he be surrounded by morons. That was about the size of it.
There was a pleasing design about Save the World too, careful not to look too polished and eccentric enough to hark back to those days of Buster Crabbe galivanting around on cardboard sets while battling Ming the Merciless. Here there were bulldog guards, not much bigger than actual bulldogs, and fish-headed handmaidens, again a very nice bit of mask model making of a sort that was superseded by the art of computer animation, and the other creatures were amusingly daft in concept as well. This was crafted at the cusp of the CGI revolution whereupon if it had been released just a couple of years later the graphics would have dominated, offering a curious look to see something from the nineteen-nineties relying on techniques from the seventies. The cast were good-humoured enough, it looked distinctive, yet there was a mildness to the jokes and setpieces that didn't quite amount to enough to have this in any way essential. It's a bit like a long sitcom pilot. Music by Jerry Goldsmith.